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Choice of Horse/Discipline

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  • #21
    You are young and early enough in your riding career that you need to be making these decisions with a trainer. Don't put yourself in a situation of ending up with the wrong horse because you try to do this on your own. You just don't have enough experience. That's not meant to offend you, it's just the reality of your age and experience.

    Honestly, it sounds like you have a lot to figure out before it's smart to buy a horse, especially if you're questioning which discipline you want to do!

    If dressage interests you, go take lessons for a month or two and learn more about that sport. Obviously there's no jumping in dressage, but aside from that, it won't necessarily be less intimidating. Dressage horses are to be light, forward, sensitive, etc.

    Once you've chosen a discipline, you need to chose the right trainer. It doesn't sound like you trust your current trainer's advice. I recommend trying a couple others to see if you get the same or different advice from them.

    Then you need to choose reasonable goals that fit your personal ambitions, your time available, your talent, your financial backing and your parental support.

    THEN you should begin selecting the proper next horse, with your trainer, with those goals in mind.

    Everyone wants to do the shiny fun stuff like Pony Finals, especially in our Instagram era. And it may be the right goal for you. But there's a lot to consider about whether that's a smart goal for you. It is a very expensive trip, you very likely won't get a ribbon but will be there for the experience. A LOT of first timers have a very poor showing over fences due to nerves and the very different setup/style of the show. Plenty choose to go for the experience (and it can be a wonderful experience if approached with the right set of expectations and attitude). But part of growing up is accepting reality. 5'3 isn't tall but it isn't especially tiny either, and is going to look best on a large, which is 3', which is legit, especially on a pony. Are you competent at that height...not just at home or over a soft, local course, but at Finals - the biggest, most challenging course/environment existing for 3' ponies? Can you afford a lease or buy on a real large pony who can attend finals without being over-faced? Are your parents willing to spend the money qualifying, and then spend the $5k it'll take to attend? And in that context, is going still a smart goal for you?
    Jennifer Baas
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

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    • #22
      Agree with needing a trainer with a “presence” at big shows and knows how to navigate them. Pony finals are easy to qualify for. A lot of people just wait for the fancy pointes to go to Florida or the other winter circuits and qualify against less competitors that are generally not as hard to compete against. You will be up against professional pony jocks and the classes are huge once you get there though.

      Ponies are a tough sell and easy to lease. You can even lease a pony just for the finals if you wanted and your trainer had the connections. Big bucks, but so is campaigning to get there. You could step up to the horse and lease a pony for the finals when you’re ready.

      No to the 5 year old. As quiet and sweet as he is, he is a baby that will be looking for a knowledgeable rider to guide him through his training. You’re not there yet. That’s how people and horses get broken.

      I love the idea of a school master that is safe and knows it’s job, but that will challenge you to keep you learning. Be careful of the broken ones though. Another lease opportunity for a year to see if it works before committing to ownership.

      Dressage is the fundamentals of hunters. They need these skills and strengths to be balanced and adjustable in hunter land. Good luck. I’m very happy for you that you have such amazing opportunities to choose from and supportive parents!

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      • Original Poster

        #23
        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

        Have you take dressage lessons? If so what level have you ridden at? Have you done a dressage test competition?

        If you just want to switch to dressage because you are a nervous rider, you need to try it out first before you buy a horse and commit to it. Dressage still requires a big moving horse that is in front of your leg, and this can make lots of ammies and juniors nervous. It also requires a different seat.

        if you are wanting to switch disciplines you should take some lessons and perhaps get a half lease on a dressage horse for 6 months to see if you like the sport. it is very detail minded and technical, some people love it and some people find it too fussy and controlling.

        And you want to buy a horse with some dressage training already..
        I have taken a few dressage lessons, not at a high level, though. I'm going to admit it--I did not think about a big moving horse, which, as you say, does make me more nervous. My trainer has a Holsteiner that is schooling 3rd level and showing 1st/2nd, and perhaps I am mistaking this quality for nervousness. I have ridden this horse one time and he was great, but cantering on him does make me nervous. I have been leaning towards hunter and honestly want to give it a shot while I'm still young enough for junior heights. When I have to move to higher divisions because of age, then I may reconsider, but for my junior years, I would like to have a shot at hunter. Do you think that's a good goal?

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Originally posted by blondewithchrome View Post
          If I were in this scenario, I’d probably consider leasing the pony for a year to try and make it to pony finals - THEN move up to a horse. In my experience, a large pony doing 3’ hunters is MUCH more friendly than a big horse doing the same height. Ponies are a great way to step up and learn if you are anxious or nervous about horses getting fast or feeling strong. Their small size lends well to that - makes us feel more in control

          It sounds like you need to have a serious goal setting discussion with your trainer. Discuss what your likes and dislikes are about the hunters, and confirm it is the right path FOR YOU. do you enjoy jumping and the skills required for a nice hunter round? If not, perhaps the hunter route isn’t for you. If so, have a serious talk about what your last years as a junior look like to you. Pony Finals for a 16 or 17 year old is totally feasible on a large pony, and if that’s your dream - go for it. I have had many friends of mine who did the ponies until they aged out and had a blast! After all, that is what it’s all about.

          I would also be wary of this sales situation. The focus you have on size and horse breed should be less of a concern than - is this horse safe, honesty, reliable, sound, and a good match for me and my goals? That can come in many different packages, so be thoughtful about making the right choice about your next horse.
          Yes! I really do want a shot at ponies, but I'm going to take your advice and have this goal setting discussion ASAP. I've mentioned pony hunters to her, but I don't know if she knows that that's something I've really wanted to do for awhile.

          I was mentioning height and such for comparison on the pony situation--I'm sorry, I should have been more clear. After seeing all these horses' ads/talking to owners, they're all safe, reliable, and sound (with a possible exception with the fourth horse-I need to find out whether there was a previous injury there). I am quite worried about making the wrong choice, as whatever horse I get, my goal is for it to be one I won't outgrow throughout my junior years.

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          • #25
            Originally posted by Bar3backTorture View Post
            I was mentioning height and such for comparison on the pony situation--I'm sorry, I should have been more clear. After seeing all these horses' ads/talking to owners, they're all safe, reliable, and sound (with a possible exception with the fourth horse-I need to find out whether there was a previous injury there). I am quite worried about making the wrong choice, as whatever horse I get, my goal is for it to be one I won't outgrow throughout my junior years.
            Again - PLEASE work with your trainer in finding a horse. Do not do this independently from her. Honestly, it is most appropriate for her to be contacting the owners on your behalf. You don't say how young you are, but even as a mid teen, you need an experienced adult both advocating for you so you aren't taken advantage of as well as able to assess whether the horses are a good fit for you. And you need to make sure that the trainer approves of the match and is involved in the process.

            Don't trust seller's words that the horses are safe, reliable and sound. Some sellers are honest; some will say whatever needs to be said to sell the horse; some are downright unethical and will cover up major issues; some simply have a different definition of safe, reliable or sound that may not jive with yours. Involve your trainer!

            Also, again depending on how old you are and what your goals are, having one horse for your entire junior years may not be realistic. Just keep that in mind. There can be a lot of growth over a handful of years. It could be best to lease one for a year and then purchase....again, this is where trainer expertise is invaluable. With the level of nervousness it seems you may have (and there's nothing wrong with that) you need something confidence-building and appropriate, but it's amazing how quickly one can outgrow that. On the flip side, something green that could in theory grow with you could also prove disastrous to your confidence and progression as a young, nervous rider. Unless you have a fabulous budget - then perhaps you can find younger, fancy AND super safe and be good to go! Those are out there but they are priced accordingly!
            Jennifer Baas
            It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

            Comment


            • #26
              Originally posted by Bar3backTorture View Post
              I have been leaning towards hunter and honestly want to give it a shot while I'm still young enough for junior heights. When I have to move to higher divisions because of age, then I may reconsider, but for my junior years, I would like to have a shot at hunter. Do you think that's a good goal?
              I am wondering where you have gotten the idea that you MUST move up in height based on your age? I can't think of any examples in modern day, rated, hunter-jumper competition where the height of the fences to be jumped is dictated by the rider's age. In the pony divisions, fence height is usually based on the size of the pony. Sometimes for special medal classes, a certain height must be jumped, but generally speaking, you should always be able to find a class or division suitable to your and your mount's capabilities - whether that is cross rails or 3'6".

              If you are interested in jumping with a horse more than in doing only flat work/dressage, then by all means start with hunters - with the right trainer who installs correct basics, that should give you a great foundation. But just remember that jumping is basically staying with a horse in the air, and while the ideal hunter proceeds around the course at a steady pace, most divisions above the intro ones require cantering the course. To do this, the horse needs to be nicely in front of the rider's leg and carrying a pace very similar to like what you would find in a training or first level dressage test.
              Last edited by Groom&Taxi; Oct. 14, 2019, 02:22 PM.

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                Originally posted by BITSA View Post
                here's my $.02. Your trainer sounds wonderful, but it might be worth finding one that is doing the types of shows you want to now. You don't want to be the only client going to a show as it gets expensive bc you end up shouldering more trainer cost splits. If you can afford to and have the desire to go to PF, you need a trainer who can get you there and has the contacts to be able to give you your best shot.

                If PF is your dream get a large pony who knows his/her job.

                If PF seems fun but isn't the be all end all, get yourself a horse that will give you confidence--not a 5 year old. I cannot emphasize this enough. I am not a super confident rider either, and if I had not been able to keep my old school master when I got my young horse, I would have almost given up from feeling incompetent. Young horses can be very rewarding, but progress can be slow with lots of ups and downs, and I think you will go further building confidence.

                I also don't think I'd buy a horse at an auction. I'd find a solid citizen with a good reputation. A lease might be a great option for you too. You can find a lot of nice horses who need to step down bc of age and can give you the confidence you need without the commitment to owning.

                You are lucky to have such great choices!
                I would really like to go to PF, but not if it's unrealistic. The pony is far from me, so I'll be looking at some horses as well when I go. The event wasn't an auction (it has passed now), but both the horses I was looking at are still available. I'd think about a lease with the right horse, although I have been scared of leasing (I feel like I would fall to pieces losing an attachment to a lease horse). I have no problems with owning, as my school is a bit unique and allows me enough time for ownership. I know this may be an unpopular decision, but I am set on not switching from my trainer. She is the best person for me, my current horse, and my confidence issues. I am very, very lucky to have costs not be a problem for my family.

                I do have great choices! I'm thankful every day!

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                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  Originally posted by WildLittleWren View Post
                  If I were you I would stay away from sales and auctions. This is a big investment (and the purchase price is the smallest investment!). I would slow down and take my time looking and trying out horses (after you figure out what your goals are/what you want to do). When it has been me, when I meet a horse that makes my heart go pitter patter AND makes me so excited to think of going to the barn and working with it, that's the one (providing they pass PPE, get trainer's approval, etc). There is no rush. I would definitely throw out the 5 year old. Even the quietest 5 year old can have moments, they just haven't the amount of world experience an older horse will have. And you don't want to ruin your confidence. Good luck OP!
                  Thank you! Even with these horses, I'm still looking. I don't THINK I'll try the 5 year old, but I already mentioned him to my instructor (who knows the person offering for sale), and she's handling it now. I will speak to her and tell her that although I mentioned that horse, I don't think he's the right choice for me.

                  And yes! Under no circumstances will I buy a horse I don't connect with.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Bar3backTorture View Post

                    I would really like to go to PF, but not if it's unrealistic. The pony is far from me, so I'll be looking at some horses as well when I go. The event wasn't an auction (it has passed now), but both the horses I was looking at are still available. I'd think about a lease with the right horse, although I have been scared of leasing (I feel like I would fall to pieces losing an attachment to a lease horse). I have no problems with owning, as my school is a bit unique and allows me enough time for ownership. I know this may be an unpopular decision, but I am set on not switching from my trainer. She is the best person for me, my current horse, and my confidence issues. I am very, very lucky to have costs not be a problem for my family.

                    I do have great choices! I'm thankful every day!
                    If you want to stay with this trainer then you will be restricted to doing the discipline and shows that she is comfortable and experienced with.

                    If you want to do a much more expensive and competitive level of riding you will need to find a different trainer and program.

                    However it sounds like this trainer is a good match and that you would not thrive in a barn that was dedicated to big rated shows and youth competition.

                    If you are as nervous about jumping and riding forward as you say, then you need to work more on your riding skills before you make serious plans to compete in the bigger leagues.

                    On the other hand if you are more comfortable on a large pony or small horse for just general riding and local competition then go for one! You don't need to commit to the expense and rigor of pony finals in order to justify riding a small horse by preference.

                    ​​​​​​It's also important to have goals in life that are achievable not just fantasy. If you are an anxious rider ( which I totally get) then set smaller goals that you can succeed in rather than have a day dream about doing something totally beyond your current skill set. Because sometimes a big fantasy daydream can rob your real achievements of meaning.

                    Little kids are allowed big fantasies like I want to be an astronaut! I want to be a fireman! I want to be a princess or a rock star! Etc.

                    But as an adult we need goals we can meet and not be continually thinking our lives are useless because we should be an astronaut or a rock star when we've shown no talent that way.

                    Assuming you are a teenager OP, these are the years in transition between childhood imaginary fantasy and learning how to set clear achirvsble goals short medium and long-term that you can meet and feel good about. From everything you've said it does not sound like you are currently riding with the confidence to try to compete in a national rated program. Your coach clearly also feels that way from what she's said to you. She isn't currently willing to back you in this because she doesn't want to set you up to fail. That is completely right of her.

                    Perhaps you could meet with her to discuss achievable goals and milestones for the next 3 months, the next year, and the remainder of your junior career.
                    Last edited by Scribbler; Oct. 14, 2019, 02:49 PM.

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